1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Goldast ab Haiminsfeld, Melchior
GOLDAST AB HAIMINSFELD, MELCHIOR (1576-1635), Swiss writer, an industrious though uncritical collector of documents relating to the medieval history and Constitution of Germany, was born on the 6th of January 1576 (some say 1578), of poor Protestant parents, near Bischofszell, in the Swiss Canton of Thurgau. His university career, first at Ingolstadt (1585-1586), then at Altdorf near Nuremberg (1597-1598), was cut short by his poverty, from which he suffered all his life, and which was the main cause of his wanderings. In 1598 he found a rich protector in the person of Bartholomaeus Schobinger, of St Gall, by whose liberality he was enabled to study at St Gall (where he first became interested in medieval documents, which abound in the conventual library) and elsewhere in Switzerland. Before his patron’s death (1604) he became (1603) secretary to Henry, duke of Bouillon, with whom he went to Heidelberg and Frankfort. But in 1604 he entered the service of the Baron von Hohensax, then the possessor of the precious MS. volume of old German poems, returned from Paris to Heidelberg in 1888, and, partially published by Goldast. Soon he was back in Switzerland, and by 1606 in Frankfort, earning his living by preparing and correcting books for the press. In 1611 he was appointed councillor at the court of Saxe-Weimar, and in 1615 he entered the service of the count of Schaumburg at Bückeburg. In 1624 he was forced by the war to retire to Bremen; there in 1625 he deposited his library in that of the town (his books were bought by the town in 1646, but many of his MSS. passed to Queen Christina of Sweden, and hence are now in the Vatican library), he himself returning to Frankfort. In 1627 he became councillor to the emperor and to the archbishop-elector of Trèves, and in 1633 passed to the service of the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. He died at Giessen early in 1635.
His immense industry is shown by the fact that his biographer, Senckenburg, gives a list of 65 works published or written by him, some extending to several substantial volumes. Among the more important are his Paraeneticorum veterum pars i. (1604), which contained the old German tales of Kunig Tyrol von Schotten, the Winsbeke and the Winsbekin; Suevicarum rerum scriptores (Frankfort, 1605, new edition, 1727); Rerum Alamannicarum scriptores (Frankfort, 1606, new edition by Senckenburg, 1730); Constitutiones imperiales (Frankfort, 1607-1613, 4 vols.); Monarchia s. Romani imperii (Hanover and Frankfort, 1612-1614, 3 vols.); Commentarii de regni Bohemiae juribus (Frankfort, 1627, new edition by Schmink, 1719). He also edited De Thou’s History (1609-1610) and Willibald Pirckheimer’s works (1610). In 1688 a volume of letters addressed to him by his learned friends was published.
Life by Senckenburg, prefixed to his 1730 work. See also R. von Raumer’s Geschichte d. germanischen Philologie (Munich, 1870).